Sydney University scientists are one step closer to developing new pain relief drugs from the chemicals used by venomous sea snails. These chemicals are known as conotoxins and up until now it has been hard to administer the right dose without causing bad side effects. Researchers working across three different Australian universities say they have made a breakthrough that could make it safer to use the toxins. It is hoped the drugs will eventually reduce reliance on highly addictive opioid-based painkillers and provide effective relief for the one in five Australians affected by chronic pain. The Research has found that conotoxins appear to provide long-lasting pain relief through a range of mechanisms, such as blocking the pain signal through the nervous system.